The evening session of Thursday’s opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Myrtle Beach will be all about rebounding. As in, three of the four teams are looking to rebound from early-season losses.
The only team among the quartet that comes into the tournament with a perfect record is Appalachian State (2-0), which plays Iowa State (0-2) at 5:30 p.m. ET at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
The Mountaineers opened the season with a 135-34 victory over Division II Toccoa Falls – setting a program record for most points in a game – then knocked off Bridgwater 95-57 for their first 2-0 start in seven years.
Junior guard Ronshad Shabazz has created an early buzz for Appy State, averaging 24.5 points per game on 15-of-24 shooting from the field (62.5 percent) and 6-of-11 from 3-point range. Junior forward Tyrell Johnson is averaging 17 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, while junior center Jake Wilson leads the team on the boards with 10.5 rpg.
The Cyclones, meanwhile, are coming off their first season-opening home loss in 20 years, a 74-56 setback to Milwaukee on Monday. That game came on the heels of a 74-59 loss at Missouri on Friday.
The Cyclones made the NCAA Tournament for the sixth consecutive year last season, but they lost four starters off that team. As a result, many of the preseason predictions had Iowa State struggling this season, especially early on. Still, ISU coach Steve Prohm said that does not excuse the team’s 18-turnover performance against Milwaukee.
“We need to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Prohm said. “A nastiness to prove people wrong. A toughness that we have so much resilience about us that we’re going to fight through this. That’s what we need to be about.”
In the final game of the opening round, Tulsa (1-1) will take on Western Michigan (1-1) at 8 p.m. ET in a game that will broadcast on ESPN News.
The Golden Hurricane has already done a bit of rebounding this season, bouncing back from a 74-67 loss to Lamar by defeating Oral Roberts 90-71 on Monday behind a career-high 30 points from senior forward Junior Etou. Tulsa held ORU to 2-of-17 shooting over a 13-minute stretch to build a 45-30 halftime lead.
“Our guys competed really hard,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “Our competitive spirit was at a high level. That was more of what I expected our team to look like on Friday (against Lamar).”
Western Michigan took the opposite route to Myrtle Beach, opening the season with a 103-72 victory over NAIA Sienna Heights, but then falling to South Carolina 78-60 on Monday. Still, the Broncos enter the season as the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference.
WMU is led by senior guard Thomas Wilder, who averaged 19.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game last season in being name a first-team All Mid-American Conference selection. Wilder is averaging 19.5 ppg this season on 14-of-26 shooting (53.8 percent).